For US residents we are quickly coming up on the Thanksgiving holiday where we are meant to take a time out and appreciate all we are thankful for.  Like all practices this can be a fantastic thing or it can be horrific, depending on how it’s implemented.  Unfortunately this time of year is often full of expectations, passive aggressive messages and behaviors, let alone guilt.  There are traditions to be upheld, mandates that require fulfillment and if we don’t like it we can stuff it down with the mashed potatoes and gravy!

Well, if we’re going to be thankful for things, then let’s start by sorting out whether or not we’re participating in things which make us feel that way from the things we’re “supposed to” feel thankful for.  There’s an expectation that we’ll be grateful for all the food we’re being given, but what if we don’t want to eat a huge turkey (or ham) meal?  What if we prefer take-out Chinese?  It’s hard to be thankful for something you don’t want and are being required to eat.  There is also an expectation of the holiday being all about family.  But what if your family is dysfunctional and abusive, even dangerous?  What if you are too far away to be with them or you just plain ol’ don’t like them?  What if you’d prefer to be at a facility that is serving dinner to those in need during the holiday?  If you end up sitting around the family dinner table eating someone else’s meal, how thankful can you really be?

During the holiday season it is good to be thankful, to be aware of what we have and how amazing it is.  Part of what we should be thankful for is the authentic life we lead, being present to ourselves, honest with our needs and desires, and the fact that we act on them in positive ways.  This includes how we participate in Thanksgiving’s Day.  So separate out all the expectations into one pile, all the desires into another, and all the traditions into a third.  Then, like the most beautiful work of art, use these things to create a holiday that is a unique expression of you.  Let your soul shine through and grace everyone who comes in contact with you.  Stay at home, go out, share with family, share with strangers, share with yourself, revel in the symphony of voices, the bliss of silence, the joy of doing exactly what makes your heart sing and in this way your every moment of the day will be full of thanksgiving.